Potato and Leek Soup
Potato and leek soup served warm with plenty of Brown Bread (page 192) is one of the great staples of Irish pub grub. It is always on Meshelle’s must-have list when in Ireland. When we first put it on the menu at Society Fair, I tried to change the traditional method of making it by bumping up the cream, which wound up being totally unnecessary: another case of the old-fashioned way being the best way. However, if you want the dish to be vegetarian, it’s fine to substitute vegetable broth for the chicken stock.
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 large leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced lengthwise and coarsely chopped, well washed (see How to Clean Leeks, below)
2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
Freshly ground black pepper
Brown Bread (page 192), sliced
Sweat the vegetables: Melt the butter in a heavy casserole over medium heat. Stir in the leeks and potatoes and let them sweat until tender, about
Cook the soup: Add the stock and cream and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to medium and simmer the soup for 30 minutes, until the potatoes are completely soft.
Purée the soup: Working in batches, purée the soup in a blender until completely smooth and then pass through a fine-mesh strainer or china cap into a clean pan. Season to taste with salt. Keep the soup warm over very low heat until ready to serve. Ladle into individual bowls and garnish each serving with ground black pepper; serve with brown bread.
To reheat: The soup can be made up to 2 days before serving or frozen for up to 3 months. Reheat the soup in a saucepan over medium heat until hot and then reblend it before serving. The fat in cream soups congeals when chilled and needs to be re-emulsified.
------------------------------------------- How to Clean Leeks
Leeks are filled with sand. To clean them, you want to chop them coarsely (or however indicated in your recipe) and put them in a very large bowl of cold water. They will float to the top. With your hands, massage the pieces to separate them and allow the sand to sink to the bottom of the bowl. With your hands, scoop the leeks off the surface and into a colander.
Revue de presse
“Cathal’s culinary journey from Dublin to Restaurant Eve in Virginia makes riveting reading. This talented young man didn’t ‘lick it off a stone’, as we say in Ireland. His passion for food began in his Da’s vegetable garden, was fostered at his mother’s table, and further ignited by his childhood travels in France. The end result is a super talented young Irish chef with real values and buckets of talent of whom we can be truly proud.”
—Darina Allen, author of Irish Traditional Cooking
and Forgotten Skills of Cooking
“This is a scrumptious gathering of everything Irish. It has the haughty (foie gras with black pudding and pears) and the humble (cheese on toast), the familiar (a curing brine for ham) and the unusual (a homey dish called Dublin Coddle). Along the way you’ll meet Da and his garden and Mam and her array of stews (beef, Irish, and President Obama’s chicken). These are recipes you dare not live without.”
—Phyllis Richman, former Washington Post
“Cathal has that rare combination of deep civic mindedness, compassion, and culinary talent. This book is full of wonderful recipes to explore, from a Saint Patrick’s Day roast leg of lamb with herb pesto to simple, classic brown bread. In the fine spirit of Darina Allen, Cathal is preserving Irish foodways, celebrating their rich traditions, and breathing new life into them.”
—Alice Waters, proprietor of Chez Panisse and author of The Art of Simple Food
“In this warm and personal tribute to Irish cuisine, Cathal Armstrong invites us to come home with him to his family’s kitchen, and celebrates his roots through the lens of an Irish chef cooking in America. Reading this book could make anyone wish they were Irish. Cooking from it will make you feel as if you are.”
—Patrick O’Connell, author of Patrick O’Connell’s Refined American Cuisine